DFL48 | Restoring Common Sense Minnesota Values

TAG | raising the estate tax

Dear Neighbors,

The adjournment of the House of Representatives on May 16 brought to a close an incredibly productive 2013-2014 legislative biennium.  Given the significance of what was achieved, I thought you might appreciate a recap of some of the accomplishments.

Selcer 1

Great to participate in the “Solutions to Hunger” press conference to share our success in providing hot, nutritious school lunches to MN children, regardless of their families’ ability to pay.

When the 2013-2014 biennium began on January 8, 2013, Minnesota faced a $627 million deficit, we owed our schools over $800 million, and property taxes were on the rise. Fortunately, the 2013 Legislature began to move Minnesota in a different direction by:

  • Paying back the money borrowed from our schools. (I authored this bill in the MN House)
  • Making historic investments in education, from early childhood to college, including a tuition freeze at our public postsecondary institutions, free all-day kindergarten for every child for the first time in state history, and an early childhood scholarship program that will give thousands more youngsters access to high-quality early learning opportunities. These investments are researched based with accountability measures attached.
  • Creating more jobs through investments in initiatives like the Minnesota Investment Fund, which helps to bring new businesses to our state and helps existing businesses expand, and expanding the Angel Investment Credit fund.
  • Closing corporate tax loopholes.
  • Eliminating the gift tax and raising the estate exemption (a bill I authored)
  • $550 million dollars in tax cuts for Minnesotans
  • Enacting a fair and balanced budget that replaces a decade of “all-cuts and gimmicks” budgeting.  After being downgraded during the last legislative biennium, our credit rating is beginning to rise again, which will save our taxpayers’ hard earned money.

Since then, Minnesota’s economy has grown, the unemployment rate dropped, and the deficit turned into a surplus.  This year the Legislature built upon the successes of the 2013 session, and continued to move Minnesota forward in significant ways.  For example:

Budget

Nowhere is Minnesota’s positive direction more evident than when looking at the state’s “bottom line.” After a decade of deficits and “budget gimmicks,” Minnesota now has a stable budget into the future. Last year we balanced our deficit honestly and this year we had a $1.2 billion surplus. We utilized our surplus responsibly, providing tax cuts, making key investments in bread-and-butter priorities like education, and strengthening our budget reserve to keep our budget structurally balanced into the future.

Tax Cuts

In 2014 the Legislature provided approximately $200 million in  income tax relief by conforming Minnesota’s income tax code to key federal provisions.  Conformity reduces taxpayer confusion, makes filing the state income tax simpler, and provides tax benefits that Minnesotans expect.  For example, the marriage penalty was fixed, and the dependent care credit and working family credits were improved.  Families paying higher education tuition or who have student loans will also benefit.

The gift tax was eliminated, and the estate exemption was increased (a bill I authored).

All told, more than 2 million Minnesotans will benefit from tax cuts passed by the 2014 Legislature.

Education

Last year, the Legislature brought a decade of disinvestment in education to an end, making historic investments to fund all-day kindergarten and freeze tuition at our public colleges and universities.  This year the state’s commitment to education continued.  Among other things, a $25 per pupil increase in the funding formula was enacted.  Perhaps most important, the bill I authored in which school lunch aid was increased to ensure that students are not denied a hot meal at lunchtime became law.  Special financial assistance will also be provided to school districts to guarantee that all kindergartners, regardless of ability to pay, receive breakfast.

 Jobs

More than 50,000 jobs have been created in Minnesota since the 2013-2014 biennium began, which means all of the jobs lost during the Great Recession have been recovered.  This session the Legislature continued to build on that progress by focusing on job creation and economic development.

This session the Legislature adopted, with broad bipartisan support, the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA).  This new law strives to close the “wage gap” and promote the overall economic standing of women and their families by investing in initiatives that: (1) help women enter and stay in high-wage, high-demand, non-traditional occupations; and (2) promote the creation and expansion of women-owned businesses (I authored the Women’s Entrepreneurs bill to accomplish this).

WESA’s provisions also eliminate barriers to the economic well-being of women and their families by ensuring equal pay for equal work, expanding parenting and sick leave for working families, and enhancing employment protections for pregnant workers.  When women have equal opportunities to succeed, it means stronger families, stronger communities, and a healthier Minnesota economy.

This year the Legislature also addressed the needs of Minnesota’s lowest paid workers.  The compromise minimum wage law which passed will begin with a phased-in increase in August 2014—boosting the wages of over 300,000 Minnesotans.

Capital Investment

In an ongoing effort to create good paying jobs and support our state’s improving economic health, the Legislature enacted a bipartisan capital investment package containing strategic investments spread through every corner of the state. These measures will provide thousands of private sector jobs and fund crucial investments in college campuses, roads, bridges, wastewater treatment plants, flood prevention and mitigation, parks & trails, housing, and other important infrastructure.  In our area, the St. David’s Center, used by many of our families, received funding to renovate and expand.

Minnesota’s Future is Bright

Clearly, Minnesota has momentum, but there is more work to be done to ensure we keep our middle class strong, and our state and community headed in the right direction. Looking forward, we must continue to address the bread-and-butter issues vital to Minnesota’s future.

It is my goal that in upcoming sessions we can build upon the significant achievements enacted during the 2013-2014 biennium.  I am committed to working on a bipartisan basis for the good of our community, and I will always place Minnesota’s long-term needs ahead of partisan politics.  To that end, I look forward to spending this summer and fall visiting with you and other members of our community about how we keep our state moving forward.

Celebrating the progress we made this last legislative session in the work to end hunger for MN children! Pictured here with Jessica Webster of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota.

Celebrating the progress we made this last legislative session in the work to end hunger for MN children! Pictured here with Jessica Webster of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Colleen Moriarty of Hunger Solutions Minnesota.

As always, thank you for the honor of serving you in the Minnesota Legislature.  Please always feel free to contact me whenever I can be of assistance at rep.yvonne.selcer@house.mn or 651-296-3964.

Best,

Yvonne

Rep. Yvonne Selcer, 48A
523 State Office Building
Saint Paul, MN 55155
651.296.3964

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©2014 DFL SD 48. Prepared and paid for by Senate District 48 DFL, Sharon Borine, Chair, 18285 Croixwood Ln, Eden Prairie, MN 55347